Symetra Financial and the Seattle Seahawks today announced that three Puget Sound-area schools — Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Seattle, Shorewood High School in Shoreline and Lakeridge Elementary School in Renton — have won 2010 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom “MVP Awards.” Through the award, each school will receive a $10,000 grant to fund an innovative student achievement program.

The Thurgood Marshall program will make available non-fiction social studies and science books to support the wide-ranging needs and abilities of a diverse K-5 student population. The Shorewood High School program will help students better understand the complexities of geometry through three-dimensional modeling. And the Lakeridge Elementary program will engage non-English speaking parents of kindergarten and first graders with in-school learning opportunities that foster at-home learning.

The Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program honors teachers in the Seattle, Shoreline and Renton School Districts for educational excellence throughout the NFL football season. Twenty-four teachers were recognized as a Symetra Hero in 2010, making their respective schools eligible to compete for an MVP Award. The winning programs were selected by a committee composed of representatives from Symetra Financial, the Seahawks, the Alliance for Education and the three school districts.

Thurgood Marshall Elementary (Seattle, Wash.): Content Area Reading Program

Thurgood Marshall Elementary has a diverse student population with a wide range of reading levels and needs. Many of its students, new to the U.S. and to English, need books that develop and encourage their reading skills, while gifted students need books beyond the available reading levels.

“Using the same textbook to teach a subject like science or social studies often leaves more than half of the students unable to read the text independently — at a level they can comfortably comprehend without extra support from the teacher,” said Julie Briedenbach, principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. “The Content Area Reading program will provide each classroom with multiple levels of books, allowing students to work independently at their own level as well as with their classmates as part of the larger learning community.”

Shorewood High School (Shoreline, Wash.): Sea 3D Program

Home to more than 1,600 students, Shorewood has been recognized by Newsweek Magazine as among the top 5 percent of public high schools in the nation. After two decades of working with an integrated math curriculum, the school district switched to a traditional math sequence last year, and new state graduation requirements stipulate that students in the Class of 2013 and beyond pass geometry.

The Sea 3D Program will supplement and enrich the curriculum with materials designed to help students master challenging geometric concepts like three-dimensional geometry. Classroom sets of reusable three-dimensional model-building materials will be distributed, and some of the components also will be used to support the school’s science and art curriculum.

“Three-dimensional geometry is very difficult to understand when you can only imagine what a polyhedra looks like,” said Bill Dunbar, principal of Shorewood High School. “Through the Sea 3-D program, Shorewood students will be actively engaged in building and manipulating models that allow them to explore these complex concepts — and expand their intellectual curiosity.”

Lakeridge Elementary School (Renton, Wash.): Scholars Club

Lakeridge is one of the most diverse schools in the Renton School District, and one of the highest needs schools in the state. An ongoing challenge for the school is low parental involvement — many parents do not speak English and, as such, are unable to actively engage with their childrens’ academics.

The Scholars Club will join kindergarten and first-grade students and parents in in-school learning activities that parents can then use at home to extend and enhance that learning. The program’s goal is to give parents the opportunity to learn with their children in school and gain the confidence they need to help their children learn at home. The MVP Award will fund Spanish and Somali interpreters for Scholars Club events, along with totes filled with books, activities and materials.

“We believe that through a closer partnership with our parents as their children begin their educational experience, we can make a difference in student achievement,” said Ginny Knox, principal of Lakeridge Elementary. “Our Scholars Club will help fuel the wonder and joy of learning, through hands-on learning opportunities and guidance, while empowering parents to help their children at home.”

The schools, represented by their principals, were honored by Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin, Symetra CEO Tom Marra and Symetra Executive Vice Presidents Jon Curley and Dan Guilbert during an on-field check presentation at the Seahawks’ final regular season home game on Jan. 2, 2011.

For more information about the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program, visit

MVP Award Committee:

Symetra Financial:

Seattle Seahawks:

Alliance for Education:

Renton School District:

Seattle Public Schools:

Shoreline School District:

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